(Image / Island Health)

Island Health has launched an awareness campaign for men who use drugs.

The campaign is to help prevent overdose deaths and support men to break the silence about their drug use and is aimed primarily at those employed in skilled trades and transport.

Historical data from the BC Coroners Service (Illicit Drug Overdose Deaths in BC) shows that half of the men who died from toxic drugs were employed, 55% of which worked in the trades and transport industry.

Throughout the 8-week campaign, outreach will be through social media, radio and streaming messages, as well as display ads in transit shelters. Island Health’s web page will provide available resources, including overdose prevention and supervised consumption locations.

Last year, in the Island Health region, 263 people died from illicit drug toxicity, and of those people, 225 were men.

Unfortunately, 126 of those men were in private residences when they overdosed.

“We know that among those who die from toxic drug poisoning, men who use alone are at greatest risk,” said Dr. Richard Stanwick, Island Health’s Vice President, Population Health & Chief Medical Health Officer.

Island Health operates supervised consumption or overdose prevention services in many communities in the Island Health region

Since 2016, there have been over 7,000 overdose deaths in BC.

This surpasses annual deaths from car crashes, suicides, and homicides combined and leads to a decline in life expectancy at birth in BC.

An average of five lives are being lost to illicit drug toxicity every day alongside the COVID-19 pandemic.

In March, a free service opened offering confidential drug checking in Victoria.

The storefront is part of an innovative harm reduction approach operated by the Vancouver Island Drug Checking project, started by a group of scientists from the University of Victoria.

The drug testing service is located at 1802 Cook Street and is open from 12-7 p.m., Mondays through Fridays.

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